Council reviews rules at Fife recycling centres after 'bizarre' incident

A plea for common sense has been made after a “bizarre” incident at a recycling centre in Fife saw a woman told to remove an old tumble dryer from her trailer, put it in the boot of her car and then book another slot before she could dump it at a drop-off point - just five paces away!
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Now Fife Council has said it is reviewing the rules put in place during the pandemic.

The incident happened at Pittenweem recycling Centre recently.

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East Neuk resident, Fiona Corps, had booked her slot using the local authority’s online system which doesn’t have a specific option for small car-pulled trailers.

Pittenweem Recycling Centre where one customer couldn't unload a tumble dryer from a trailer despite being just five steps from the depositoryPittenweem Recycling Centre where one customer couldn't unload a tumble dryer from a trailer despite being just five steps from the depository
Pittenweem Recycling Centre where one customer couldn't unload a tumble dryer from a trailer despite being just five steps from the depository

She told her MP, Wendy Chamberlain, that staff reluctantly let her in.

But, when she asked if it was okay to leave the dryer next to other white goods, she was told she could not, because it was in a trailer - and not her car!

Ms Chamberlain branded the situation “bizarre” and said it could lead to fly-tipping.

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Her constituent said: “I asked the member of staff what I was supposed to do with it if I couldn’t leave it there and he suggested that I should take it home again, put it into the boot of my car and book another slot to drop it off.

Wendy Chamberlain MP (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)Wendy Chamberlain MP (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)
Wendy Chamberlain MP (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)

“I couldn’t believe what he was saying - I thought he was joking.

"I was only five paces away from the drop off point and, because it was in my trailer and not in the boot of my car, I couldn’t leave it.”She continued: “I drove down to the landfill containers to dispose of my waste and decided to lift the dryer from the trailer while I was there and place it into the boot of my car.

"As they lifted the gate to allow me to exit, I rolled down my window and said, ‘the tumble dryer is now in my boot, if I detach the trailer from my car will you allow me to dispose of it?’ and he said ‘Yes, if you take your trailer off the car'.

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She followed their instructions, but the situation led to a call from the MP for a re-think.

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Ms Chamberlain said: “This is not the first-time residents have told me they've had trouble accessing the recycling centre.

"The vast majority of people just want to drop off their recycling and are more than happy to follow the safety rules.

“There are no excuses for fly-tipping, but asking people to jump through hoops every time they want to recycle will only encourage more people to dump rubbish illegally.

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"Staff at Pittenweem Recycling Centre have a difficult job to do and they must be allowed to use common sense to help people when the rules are clearly not working."

Fife Council said it was reviewing its booking system and all measures put in place during the pandemic.

Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation and environment service, said, he had consulted councillors and users with a view to making changes.,

He added: "These measures were put in place to protect our staff and members of the public and have been kept under close review as the pandemic continues.

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“ The current access conditions at Pittenweem allow trailers in but with restricted waste streams which exclude white goods. This information is highlighted at the point of booking when selecting waste types. I am pleased to see that a solution was found during the visit but can understand the frustration. “

A report will be discussed next month at the council's Environment and Protective Services sub-committee."

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